Videogames: a teacher’s best friend

Or at least, video games should be a teacher’s best friend. An article on The Conversation today does a great job of explaining how games could be great for education, and why ‘educational games’ aren’t crossing that gap.



Jane McGonigal is the doyenne of gamification (adding game elements to things that aren’t traditionally games).

Today a friend suggested I check out her video below. It’s been great for putting a bit more perspective into my point of view. She uses evidence and a great presentation style to show how she’s used game ideas to recover from a serious injury and the mental health after-effects. Take a look for yourself:

As she mentions in the video, McGonigal’s also used what she’s learned to make an online game for people to use for their own self-improvement: SuperBetter. Let me know if you try it out – it would be great to see you on there.

Minecraft: a textbook teaching tool

Earlier this year, the Atlantic published a great, if academically written, article on the value of the game Minecraft as a teaching game.

This idea isn’t new – some New Zealand kids convinced their teachers that Minecraft was the best tool for redesigning their classrooms back in 2012 – but it’s powerful. A game like this offers a heap of benefits for classrooms, including giving kids the ability to:

  • design environments, both freely or to a teacher’s specifications
  • work collaboratively on a big, real goal
  • create without real world limitations on environments – cloud houses that are only accessible by waterfall are alarmingly common in the games I’ve played
  • create as a group without having to fight for materials

If you’re working with kids at all, the story is worth a look. Just be prepared to forgive the author for phrases like “Visuospatial reasoning is the basis for more abstract forms of knowledge like the ability to evaluate whether a conclusion logically follows from its premises.” Minecraft is worth the pain.